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Russia solves problem of overcrowded remand prisons

October 31, 2012, 16:00 UTC+3
If in 1990s at the remand prisons some 80-100 people were kept in one cell and people were sleeping in three and four shifts, now the situation has changed drastically
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MOSCOW, October 31 (Itar-Tass) — Russia has solved completely the problem of overcrowded remand prisons, and 21 remand prisons already meet ‘the European standards’, head of the department of prisons and remand prisons management of the Federal Penitentiary Service Maj.-Gen. Valery Boyarinev said on Wednesday.

“If in the nineties of the previous century at the remand prisons some 80-100 people were kept in one cell and people were sleeping in three and four shifts, now the situation has changed drastically,” he said.

If in 1996 Russian remand prisons were keeping over 295,000 people, at the beginning of 2010 over 124,000 people were kept there, and 107,000 people at the beginning of this year, Boyarinev said.

Some 236 remand prisons and 165 premises in the penitentiaries, which function as remand prisons, operate in Russia now. Some 112,000 people are being kept under arrest that make 83% of the limit of remand prison capacity.

“On the average there are 4.3 square metres of the cell area per inmate under arrest in Russia. Only in 12 regions in several remand prisons there are less than four square meters per inmate required by the Russian legislation, but it is more than three metres set in Europe,” Boyarinev noted.

Moreover, he noted that new remand prisons under construction meet the European standards, the latest European recommendations of seven square metres per prisoner, a separate toilet, etc. Already 21 such remand prisons function in Krasnoyarsk, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Tambov, Pskov, Kaliningrad Regions and Nizhny Novgorod. Before 2016 another 33 new remand prisons should be built. First of all, the construction continues in those regions, where the remand prisons were overcrowded.

Meanwhile, the video monitoring system is being introduced at all remand prisons for security. Over 16,000 video cameras are already placed at the detention centres today that permitted to bring down the number of incidents, including illegal actions against the prison employees.

The death rate at the Russian remand prisons is going down gradually thanks to more qualitative medical services, Boyarinev said.

“If in 2008 485 people died at the remand prisons, 322 in 2011 and 285 people this year,” he noted.

Thanks to the work of psychologists and video monitoring systems the number of suicides has been reduced at the remand prisons. “The practice shows that the largest number of suicides falls on first four days of custody. In the previous year 144 suicides were committed. But thanks to the installment of the video monitoring cameras this year 60 people were saved and the measures were taken timely,” Boyarinev said.

After a high-profile case over the deaths at the Moscow remand prisons, when at the initiative of the penitentiary service several amendments were introduced to the legislation that permit to release from custody people with heavy diseases, these novelties became effective, he said.

“In the previous year we sent 563 people kept at the remand prisons to undergo examination at the medical commissions. Some 224 of them were found ill and it was decided to release 123 people. For nine months of this year we sent 683 people to the medical examination commissions, a heavy diagnosis was confirmed in 362 of them and we released from custody 265 people over their diseases,” Boyarinev noted.

The professional holiday – day of worker of remand prisons and penitentiaries - is marked in Russia on Wednesday.


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